SimplyBhangra recently caught up with Taj-E! The highly-praised and prolific producer has generated a string of popular hits, featuring the likes of Bee2, Juggy D and the late Kaka Bhaniawala.
Now, Taj-E is set to once again create an impact with his anticipated forthcoming album, 2 Sik N Twisted. He joins us to discuss the importance of having a unique style in Bhangra, his past and present favourite artists, ghost production and more!
Taj-E, welcome. Firstly, Dar Lagda (Ft. Bee2), is the lead-off single from the album and sounds really distinctive. What was the thought process behind the track?
We wanted to do something different. We were all brainstorming one day and said we’ve never done a Horror-type video. We worked a bit differently with this track; we actually thought of the video first and then did the track. I was trying to then produce a sound which is new, synthy and something fresh, and it worked. The track went to number one on iTunes and on The Official Asian Network Download Chart.
Because the video for Dar Lagda draws from the Horror genre, it makes a refreshing change since a lot of Bhangra videos are just horrifically bad. With your other, funny videos as well, are you very consciously trying to produce something different? Is this a stagnant area of Bhangra, where the fans are in demand of something new?
Yes. At the Sound Pipe, we’re actually always trying to give our listeners something new and fresh as that's what they want. We want to do new things and with good quality. This makes us a bit different and makes us stand out. A lot of people know us for our videos, so we put a lot of effort in planning and strategising good videos.
As you guys aim to release fun and quality material; not necessarily in its sound, but more in its ethos and status, what should Bhangra be?
Today’s Bhangra has evolved over many generations. Initially, Bhangra was a dance and the music was folk. Now, Bhangra has a whole new meaning and is now defined by the music. I think it's getting bigger and more people are appreciating good music and good singers. They appreciate artists who have talent and play live. This is where we started, and we love performing live. In terms of Bhangra music moving forward, hopefully more people get to see our talents and appreciate what we are doing.
You’re a diverse producer, with styles ranging from tabla-driven ballads like Sajna, folkish floor-fillers like BIG, and super-slick urban cuts like the Vang Teri remix. Who are your biggest influences in these different aspects of your music?
Everything I hear influences my music. I like listening to old folk singers – such as Chamkila, Kuldeep Manak, Surinder Shinda – and duet songs. I love that music, and at the same time I listen to Tinie Tempah, Bruno Mars and a lot of mainstream Pop music. I really am influenced by everything I hear.
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From both the mainstream and the Bhangra scene, which artists would you most like to work with?
I would like to work with Imran Khan as he has a really good voice and I really think we could collaborate to produce some big tunes. From the mainstream, I would like to work with Rihanna and Tinie Tempah.
There’s genuineness to your output, whether videos or music. You’re adept at a variety of instruments, including drums, piano and saxophone. So, what are your thoughts on something as disingenuous as ghost production?
I wouldn't lie; ghost production exists and there are a lot of artists involved in it. As you know, music is a business. And it's not just in this industry; it's also in the mainstream. However, if we produced a track for an artist, it's really their ideas and we just act as engineers and musicians to put certain things together. Artists actually sit in the studio and direct us as to how they want their track done. That's pretty much how it is.
I think you can take pride in your production when you’re trusted with the return of an undisputed Bhangra mega-star like Juggy D. How did that collaboration come about?
We’ve always known Juggy, but he was quite busy touring and gigging around the world. One day, we caught up at a music video shoot together. We got talking and made a little deal. From there, we just started getting closer, and Juggy always comes down to the studio and we’re all very good friends.
Looking at your current ventures, you guys at The Sound Pipe always seem to be thinking out-of-the-box and two steps ahead of everyone else. Surpassing just iTunes, you’ve got iPhone and iPad apps available! Tell us about that.
We’re always trying to promote our music in new avenues. One avenue, which is now my business, is mobile applications. This involves iPhone, iPad and Android development. I have developed really exciting apps myself, such as Dhol Nut, Beat Nut, DEA Algozey and (the most popular app) Tumbi Nut, which reached number four in the Music Paid Apps on the App Store. Fans can check out the demos on our YouTube channel:
You clearly have a lot underway. What’s next for The Sound Pipe?
Currently, The Sound Pipe are working on some big projects for the fans. We have 2 Sik N Twisted on the way, some more applications and many more projects which I can't discuss yet, but SimplyBhangra will be the first to know once we can announce it.
Come on, at least give us a teaser of what to expect from 2 Sik N Twisted!
2 Sik N Twisted will definitely be more Sik N Twisted than the first one. I don't want to give away too much yet, but it's going to be a big album!
On that note, thank you for the interview, Taj-E. What closing message would you like to give to the SimplyBhangra readers?
A big thank you to everyone out there for their ongoing support. And keep it locked to SimplyBhangra as they have always got the latest news about The Sound Pipe first.
Interview by Govinda Lakha.